Vanished from Victoria: Dr. J. F. Krenek house , 607 N. Main St.

May 8, 2010 at 12:08 a.m.

It is particularly sad when Victoria loses one of the National Register properties. Dr. Franklin Krenek's house lost its fight with life on Friday afternoon, April 9, and Saturday morning, April 10. The house was notable in that it was a Spanish Colonial Revival structure.

Krenek moved to Victoria in 1923 to begin his career as a dentist and dental surgeon. He married Katherine Antonioli and contracted with the San Antonio firm of Woodward and Hardie to design a home just across North Street from the John J. Welder mansion. The attractive stucco-over-frame construction house was completed in 1928 and has been a landmark since that time on North Main Street.

In retrospect, it is probably not a good idea to build a stucco building on a pier and beam foundation in Victoria. The black gumbo we call dirt here, bucks and pitches with every change in humidity, much less major droughts. Some of those who gathered across North Street to watch the building come down recalled seeing Krenek watering around the perimeter of the building years ago in an attempt to keep the soil stabilized.

Architect Kai J. Leffland was hired to make additions to the structure at some point in the house's early 82-year history. Krenek passed away in 1976; Katharine lived another eight years.

The family attempted over the next two decades to keep the house patched up and habitable.

Large cracks in the walls opened and closed as weather conditions fluctuated.

The drought in 2009 sounded the death knell. The roof failed and the drought-ending rains poured into the interior of the house.

Externally, the first great bites of the demolition machinery revealed extensive termite damage and wood rot.

Structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places have earned that listing, not because they are a novelty in Victoria, nor an interesting structure somewhere in South Texas, but are of national significance.

The value of Victoria's architectural treasures figure strongly to our city's appeal to heritage tourists.

Whenever it is at all possible, Victoria's history must be preserved as a vital art of our city's future.

A landmark has vanished, but we must take heart that there is much of Old Victoria left to celebrate. It is a great old town.



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